Leadership and Emotional Expressiveness

1 - Leadership-Emotional-ExpressivenessHow well do the leaders in your organization express their emotions? What about you? Can you and do you appropriately articulate your feelings? Do you use emotional expressiveness to persuade and inspire others?

“Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal. Great leadership works through the emotions.”
– Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, Primal Leadership (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013)

Leaders are responsible for their organization’s energy levels. While research has demonstrated a strong link among excitement, commitment and business results, many leaders stumble at emotional expressiveness. They are unsure of themselves in expressing both positive and negative emotions in an effort to maintain credibility, authority and gravitas. Consequently, they lose one of their best tools for achieving high impact – Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.

“The role of emotional maturity in leadership is crucial.”
– Kathy Lubar and Belle Linda Halpern, Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire (Penguin Group, USA, 2004)

MBA programs don’t teach emotional expressiveness, although professors often speak to emotional intelligence as an important leadership quality.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to read, understand and manage your — and others’ — moods and emotions, and it’s a critical component of effective leadership. In order to be effective in leading, leaders at all organizational levels must master:

  1. Appraisal and expression of emotions
  2. Use of emotion to enhance cognitive processes and decision-making
  3. The psychology of emotions
  4. Appropriate management of emotions

Every message has an emotional component, so leaders must learn to articulate and express their emotions or feelings. Mastering this objective inspires your team in five essential domains:

  1. Developing collective goals
  2. Instilling an appreciation of work’s importance
  3. Generating and maintaining enthusiasm, confidence, optimism,
    cooperation and trust
  4. Encouraging flexibility in decision-making and change management
  5. Establishing and maintaining a meaningful organizational identity

Leaders create authentic relationships by authentically expressing interest in their people and showing empathy. They must also express their emotions publicly.

In the work I do coaching leaders and executives, I find many are brilliant and intellectually conversant about emotions… but do not easily express their personal feelings. Not many are comfortable being that open and transparent with people they lead.

What about you? In your organization, do people express emotions easily and openly? I’d love to hear from you; you can contact me or connect on LinkedIn.


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